This may be a bit of a “What came first: the chicken, or the egg?” scenario, but hear me out. There seems to be a direct correlation between men putting less effort into a relationship and men having fewer responsibilities in the said relationship.
By this, I mean men have (traditionally) been the breadwinners and had expectations they needed to meet in order to support a family, make their wife happy, and so on.
That is no more.
Single working moms who do everything themselves… Female CEOs who run enormous empires… High-powered female political figures… Women making all of these advances is a great thing.
But it also means that men really don’t feel as needed as we once did, because the truth is that we’re not needed the way we once were.
Now, that being said, I think we can all agree that society is far better off than it was in the olden days, where women had limited rights and were generally placed behind men in all scenarios. I have spent years encouraging equal treatment between men and women, so that is not what this is about.
Why do men need to feel needed?
This is about the biological (or maybe sociological?); nature of males to want to be providers. Protectors. Contributors. This is how we feel validated and this is also how we express our love.
I am not saying you need to give a man a purpose in life — that comes from him. I mean changing a tire, washing the car, finding your lost set of keys. But I am saying that men need to feel neeeded in their relationships.
And men have egos — sometimes easily damaged egos that make us fall back and shrink into a smaller version of ourselves when we’re no longer needed or (feel) wanted.
So, the less that one feels as if his efforts are needed, the less he will contribute, the more his significant other will pick up the slack.
I believe it is a man’s job in a relationship to empower the woman he’s with. To support her in her endeavors, and to encourage her on her journeys. To nourish her soul in a way that is specific to her and what she needs.
But that also means it is a woman’s job to empower the man in her life, as well. And men need to feel useful in order to be empowered.
Have you ever seen a man actually get excited to do you a favor? Maybe it means washing your car, driving you to the airport, or bragging about your accomplishments to his friends.
He becomes enthusiastic because he’s got a purpose. He’s helping you and adding value to your life. By doing so, it helps for him to tap into that instinct of providing and protecting, even though you don’t actually need him to do it.
Believe it or not, men are willing to put in more effort and do things for you, but they oftentimes need the green light or opportunity to go ahead and do it.
Many men these days are a little skittish about doing things for women because they don’t want to be called out for supplicating her or trying to “take charge” of something that she takes pride in. So, they’ll just hang back.
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I’m not saying it’s the correct approach, but I think it really speaks to why guys need to be needed, the evolution of relationships, and how a lot of men are feeling confused about their place in the world.
If we can work together to help each other be the best version of ourselves, then we are going to associate positive emotions with the person we’re with, and keep wanting to feed the fire. If a man feels good by contributing to your life, and therefore continues to do so, where’s the harm?
We know you don’t need us, but we want you to want us. And one of the best ways of allowing the man in your life to flourish is to give him the opportunity to do so.
James Michael Sama is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and personal development coach who has become a go-to expert for outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.
This article was originally published at James M Sama. Reprinted with permission from the author.